Chinese Altay Mountains
January 2020 Xinjiang Province China
Anyone who knows Northwestern China pictures dry sand dunes where the Gobi Desert reaches its western edge. Nomads still migrate using camels to relocate their yurts in this flat dry expanse. Except….if you go far enough…keep going….until if you stand on a high point you can see Kazakstan, and Russia, and Mongolia. There you will find yourself in another world, the Altay Mountains. Clean rivers flow through forested valleys with mountains, oh there are mountains. The valleys begin around at 1000m but the mountains go up as high as you can imagine. The village of Khom sits near the centre of this amazing wilderness. Three thousand metre peaks dominate the skyline in every direction. The Altays have an uncanny resemblance to the Canadian Rockies, but just about when the first humans were arriving in British Columbia, they were skiing in the Altay. Rock painting 10,000 yrs old lay behind the claim for this to be the cradle of skiing. The story goes that when Genghis Khan’s army passed through this area it was used for the wounded to recuperate. I think that they just knew a good place to ski when they saw it.
Skiers here are proud of their skiing heritage. They still use horse hair skis just as they have for 1000s of years and their love of nature and the mountains is obvious in their music and lifestyles. Whether it is skiing with local skiers, listening to the Tuvan throat singing music or riding in a horse drawn chana it is an honor to be able to share a piece of a magic world with these amazing people.
Contact me for details if you are interested in next years trip.